During Matchday 35, we will see Inter Miami continue their chase for a playoff spot hosting New York City FC and needing to make up five points with two games in hand and five teams to jump.
Importantly, we will also find out if Lionel Messi is healthy enough to play, as his ongoing muscle fatigue had him sit out the midweek US Open Cup.
This weekend will feature some high-end battles with teams competing for higher playoff seeds and home-field advantage deep into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Philadelphia visiting Columbus and Salt Lake visiting LAFC jump out as games that will have an immediate impact on the playoff standings.
Neil FitzGerald here from The Game Day to look at the upcoming MLS matches for Matchday 35 taking place on Saturday, September 30 or Sunday, October 1.
The MLS odds I used for my betting picks are current as of 11 am ET on Thursday, September 28, at the indicated sportsbook for the wager.
Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union Preview
Thanks to an own goal by FC Dallas last week, the Crew came away with an important road point. They did own the majority of possession and outshot Dallas 13-8, so it was likely deserved.
Columbus continue to lead the league in goals, and they’ve only lost at home once all year, so this could be an attractive wager if the odds are right.
Before their midweek game (1-1 draw with Dallas) and following a scoreless draw versus LAFC last week, the Union had only lost four times in their previous 22 matches.
The team has struggled a bit on the road this year, with only five wins against seven losses, but this is a battle for home-field advantage later in the playoffs, so expect a competitive match.
Inter Miami CF vs. New York City FC Preview
While Messi’s match status may still be uncertain, the competitive play of the team with or without him is now no longer in question.
Miami came out of a tough inter-state rivalry game versus Orlando with another road point, and they are now within five points of the playoff spots with some games in hand.
With NYCFC’s impressive 3-0 win over Toronto FC last week, they are now undefeated in five.
The victory was only their fourth in their last 21 games, but it was their second consecutive shutout, and they find themselves in the last playoff spot in the East.
This game should be an exciting match and the betting direction will change based on who is able to play from Miami’s side.
New England Revolution vs. Charlotte FC Preview
New England missed an opportunity for a road victory in their last match, coming away with a 2-2 draw to the struggling Chicago Fire.
The large gap between actual (+13) and expected (-0.8) goal differential remains an ongoing concern, and combined with the off-field distractions, this is a team to avoid investing in right now.
After last week’s disappointing 3-0 loss to Cincinnati, Charlotte have now only lost twice in 12 league matches but still remain four points out of a playoff spot. They were unable to generate a single shot on target in their last game, making this a tough match for backing this squad unless the odds are long.
- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. CHARLOTTE FC PICK: Charlotte To Win Draw No Bet (+230) • FanDuel Sportsbook. The Revs are dropping points to weak teams suggesting they are not fully focused, and Charlotte are not a weak team.
New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire Preview
The Red Bulls won for the first time in six matches but did so in an unorthodox manner – both scoring and conceding season highs in a 5-3 road victory over DC United.
The squad had previously had difficulty finding the net, with only 25 goals scored across all league matches before last week, although, as highlighted last week, their expected Goal Differential (xGD) of +9.9 was still third best in the East. This squad may be worth a look for the win this week.
After a pleasant 2-2 draw at home with New England last week, Chicago have not won in seven games since the break.
The Fire have only scored twice in their last seven matches, and their recent performance does not inspire increased hope or betting action.
Orlando City SC vs. CF Montréal Preview
After a competitive inter-state rivalry game versus Inter Miami that ended 1-1, Orlando have now only lost three times in their last 21 matches. This is a team worth watching and supporting when the odds are right, and Montréal's road record is poor (2W-11L-2D).
CF Montréal were badly outplayed in a 4-1 loss in Atlanta last week, and they have not won a game in their last five matches.
The team’s xGD (-8.4) is easily the worst for a playoff team in the Eastern Conference, and their road struggles suggest this is a team to avoid this weekend.
Toronto FC vs. FC Cincinnati Preview
Despite stopping a penalty kick in his MLS debut, TFC goalkeeper Luka Gavran was unable to inspire the Reds to victory in the team’s recent 3-0 loss to NYCFC.
Toronto will try and surprise the visiting league leaders in the same way they ambushed Philadelphia earlier this month, but any betting action is purely speculative.
Following two road ties in Philadelphia and Montréal, Cincinnati enjoyed their return home last week with a comprehensive 3-0 win over a strong Charlotte squad. Things should be easier this weekend, playing against one of the rare teams with a losing record at home.
- TORONTO FC vs. FC CINCINNATI PICK: Cincinnati To Win (+100) • FanDuel Sportsbook. The League’s top team playing a Toronto team struggling to find an identity makes these road odds worth it.
Houston Dynamo FC vs. FC Dallas Preview
The Dynamo have been playing inspired football since the Leagues Cup break and have outscored their two opponents 16-4 over their first seven games.
Houston had a rough 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City last week, but they did own the ball for almost 70% of the game and had double the shots on target. They quickly bounced back and won the US Open Cup final midweek (over Inter Miami), so they are worth a look, depending on the odds.
Dallas have come out of the break and received points in seven of their first eight games back, including five ties and two wins.
They have moved into the playoff picture and threaten to continue moving up if they can continue to complement their strong defense (34 goals allowed) with some offensive results.
- HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. FC DALLAS PICK: Both Teams will not score (+112) • FanDuel Sportsbook. Both teams play tight games and this inter-state match will be played conservatively.
Minnesota United FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes Preview
Minnesota’s expected goal differential (+8.5) over the season highlights that this team’s performance is for real, and they have been marching up the standings as proof.
This match promises to be competitive between two playoff contenders in the West, but their disappointing back-to-back losses to the LA Galaxy and St. Louis CITY SC do give reason for pause before wagering.
The Earthquakes remain solidly in playoff position in the Western Conference now, but their negative xGD nearing -8.0 on the season makes this a difficult team to bet on. The team’s 2W-8L-5D road record makes them hard to back this week.
Nashville SC vs. Seattle Sounders FC Preview
Nashville have been falling down the Eastern Conference standings over the last several weeks, but seem to have course-corrected recently and are unbeaten in four matches.
It’s premature to bet on a return to their Leagues Cup form just yet, but they are worth monitoring, especially at home, where they are 8W-2L-3D.
The Sounders xGD (+14.1) continue to lead MLS and their solid road record (6W-4L-5D) indicates the potentially attractive road team odds are worth following here.
Seattle are now undefeated in five matches, including four games on the road, with their latest being a 2-1 win in Colorado.
St. Louis CITY SC vs. Sporting Kansas City Preview
Despite allowing 18 shots in their last game versus Minnesota, St. Louis CITY SC held strong and came away with a 2-1 win on the road. The win extends their cushion over LAFC to eight points, and they have now only lost once in their last six.
This will be another tough match for St. Louis CITY SC, but potentially attractive for wagering as Kansas City have only won twice on the road all season.
After a mildly surprising 2-1 win over a surging Houston squad last week, Kansas City have now won four of six matches.
The team had moved to within a single point of a playoff spot, but their midweek loss pushed them down the standings, and they are now three points back of San Jose.
Colorado Rapids vs. Austin FC Preview
The Rapids scored twice in their last match, but settled for a 2-2 midweek draw against Vancouver at home.
Expect Colorado to continue to compete and attempt to score a goal in their fifth successive match for the first time this season… but this is not wagering territory.
Austin have only won once in their last nine matches, and despite scoring three last Sunday night, they also conceded three and came away with a 3-3 home draw with the Galaxy.
ATX will attempt to get back on track versus the Rapids this week, but they are a risky wagering option with their poor road record of 3W-8L-4D.
LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers Preview
The Galaxy have now lost only twice in their last 14 games. After their fourth successive game scoring multiple goals, the team is building momentum towards a playoff spot, but they still need to make up six points.
Portland have been playing well, but they’ve only won twice away from home this season, so the odds may push this into interesting territory.
Portland are unbeaten in six games after their 3-2 win over Colorado last weekend. The recent results are impressive, and the Timbers have moved firmly into the playoff picture.
They appear to be an attractive team to back, but their weak road record gives pause.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. D.C. United Preview
Vancouver lost 2-1 to Salt Lake last weekend despite owning 54% of ball possession and scoring the game’s initial goal.
It was their second consecutive loss (after three wins and a tie) on a seven-game road trip, so these losses may be attributable to travel fatigue. They should be motivated to return home and are worth a look.
D.C. United were undefeated in their last four games and had only conceded a single goal in those matches before an anomalous 5-3 loss at home to the Red Bulls last weekend.
The Black-and-Red now sit outside the playoff spots and will need to quickly rediscover their winning ways to move back up the standings. They will be interesting to watch this weekend, but not a team to wager on.
LAFC vs. Real Salt Lake Preview
LAFC now trail conference-leading St. Louis CITY SC by eight points after a second consecutive scoreless draw in Philadelphia on the weekend.
The team's xGD (+12.8) is still second best in MLS, but they will need to win out their remaining matches to challenge for the Western Conference title.
Salt Lake had lost four of their last five matches before putting in a solid match for a 2-1 win over Vancouver last Saturday.
Before this rough patch, they had been one of the league's strongest squads and had been on a nine-game unbeaten streak. It's not the time to back them with a wager, but they are worth watching down the stretch.